Iowa CITY, Iowa - Some say statistics are for losers. Well, they keep them, so they must hold meaning. Either that or the people recording them are stealing money.
Halfway through 2012, some numbers begin telling the story of a team. With Iowa, defining the squad starts on defense.
The Hawkeyes are allowing 17.2 points per game, which ranks third in the Big Ten and 21st nationally among FBS schools. That's 22 spots higher than they where finished last season when giving up 23.2.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz has always called this statistic important. It has usually served as a gauge for success during the his tenure.
"I think they're growing, and they played extremely hard today," Ferentz said after Saturday's game. "It seemed like they gave a pass there each direction, but outside of that I thought they really competed and, you know, we started out in adverse circumstances and held them to 3 (points), which was a positive, and I just thought they played hard all day long."
During Iowa's 19-16, double-overtime victory at Michigan State Saturday, the Spartans converted just 6 of 18 third down attempts. The Iowa defense finished things off with a Greg Castillo interception from a Louis Trinca-Pasat tipped pass to end the game.
Ferentz said during his radio pregame interview that Bullock suffered a reoccurrence of symptoms brought on by a hit in the UNI game, Week 3. He had been cleared to return to practice last week, the coach said.
Lowery suffered an injury before Minnesota but Ferentz said after that contest his junior probably could have played. He returned to practice during the bye week and re-injured himself, the coach said.
During his radio pregame show, Ferentz said he hoped to get the guys back next week. He did not elaborate on those chances.
Weisman missed Saturday's overtime sessions after sustaining a leg injury on his game-timing touchdown run. The sophomore running back told Hawk Central after game that he should be OK.
"I think its fine," Weisman told Hawk Central. "He said he could have returned after his game-tying touchdown, but is glad he did not. "I wouldn't have been effective. I'd probably hurt the team more than helped it."
QUOTABLE: The nice folks in the Michigan State sports info office posted Iowa quotes on the team's official site.
Here are some highlights:
Coach Kirk Ferentz
Opening - Just really proud about the way the guys hung in there against a very good football team. It was more than 60 minutes, obviously and it took basically every player out there. And outside of the turnover, you can throw all the stats out the window. It was just a hard-fought, one of those tough games."
On Momentum Change - "I felt the turn when it was 1st and 25, and I said `Oh boy, that's not good.' So...huge play by James (Vandenberg) and Keenan [Davis] down the boundary. Then, that third down thing...you know we were playing for two downs there so we took a shot on the run and Mark (Weisman) not only got the first down but then really impacted the game.
"So those two plays...that gave us momentum certainly when we got the ball down inside."
On 100th W at Iowa - "As far as [this being] the 100th [career victory] or the 10th, this is a game that I'll remember for a while just because of the way the guys battled and just stuck with it."
On Late-Game Execution - I don't care if they're home or away, the close ones are the ones that really separate the good football teams. I thought we executed very well down the stretch. We made the plays when we had to and we gave ourselves a chance.
On His On-Field Mood - I think they would tell you my demeanor was probably the same as it was with eight minutes left in the second quarter. You just got to keep going, you got to keep trying to execute plays and get us into the best place. The guys did a great job up front with all of the communication and switches. A lot of credit goes to the O-Line and (Mark) Weisman for keeping things on the same page.
On the Victory - Yeah, that was a great win, you know? For me personally, coming back to my home state and getting a big win; it was good. It was good for our team as well and for the future of our season.
On Being in 1st PL - It's great. Not a lot people have confidence in us on the outside but among us one hundred guys we know that we can do some pretty special things and we're going to keep fighting.
I don't know what's going on with the standings and what's going on in the Big Ten right now and I really can't. When I look at it, you've got to take it one game at a time and that's what we did today. We're going to keep fighting and we can't get too happy with the win. We want to enjoy this and move on next week.